WIUX talks pizza, moms with The Strumbellas

With the earliest show of the day, The Strumbellas acted like an extra shot of espresso to start day three of Lollapalooza off with energy and warmth. Lead singer Simon Ward would jump down into the front of the crowd, while keyboardist David Ritter danced across the stage passionately playing tambourine. The crowd cried out “Speech, speech, speech!” as soon as David was introduced, though an introduction was hardly necessary since he sported a hat with his name plastered on front.

Various versions of Strumbellas shirts could be seen in the crowd. Others held up cardboard banjos. Almost everyone knew the words to sing. Together, the crowd and band closed the show singing the hit song, “Spirits.”

And just like that, the day of was off and running.


Emily: This is your first time playing at Lolla, so how did it compare to other places you’ve been or solo gigs?

Darryl: I don’t know. I think for me it’s been, it’s so great because I, when I was a kid, I’d go when the Lollapalooza music festival traveled around. I used to go to those shows. It was always a highlight of the year. It was like the summer thing. Me and my friends we all would hop in my mom’s station wagon and go out. So for me it has a little bit more of a special meaning to it because it’s something that I went to as a kid. … I always looked up to these bands that I was watching. Even back then, a dream of mine was to be where they are. Like wow, that dream just came true. So it’s really neat, you know? As far as all the festivals we’ve done, we’ve done so many that have been so amazing, this one just may be a little bit closer to my heart, and it feels real good, and I’m super happy to be here.

E: What were some of your favorite people you saw when you were at Lolla as a kid?

D: I’ll date myself, but Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Tool, Beastie Boys, (Red Hot) Chili Peppers – it’s so great that they’re (Red Hot Chili Peppers) still going and still doing their thing because they’re such a great band.

E: It’s on my bucket list so I’m so excited.

Jon: Right on.

E: What are you guys excited for?

Jeremy: Well, you know what? In addition to all the great music, I’m going to go get my hair cut and maybe have a massage, and then I’ve already had like three red bulls, so I’m like fired right up. I’m just going to go run across the stadium, field.

Jon: My mom’s here. So she came all the way from … Ontario, so she’s excited to see the Chili Peppers, so I’m excited for her.

E: Excited to see the Chili Peppers or to see you?

Jon: Well, I think 50/50 probably, but you know. I’m trying to work out a scenario in which she can meet them all, but it’s not really coming together. I hope for her.

E: Does she usually come to your guys’ stuff?

Jon: This is the farthest she’s ever gone before, but usually yeah. Very supportive.

Jeremy: All of our mums are kind of our #1 fan. They all have their special little roles that they play, and it’s pretty awesome to have that.

E: What does your mom do?

Darryl: My mom is sort of of the wild dancer, copies what every other mom sort of does along the way. Jeremy’s mom is like the social media guru who finds all of our stuff even before we find it. I think your mom, Jon, is pretty much kind of in line with my mom a little bit. She’s right up front dancing.

E: Do they usually come backstage or do they like to be out in the crowd?

Jeremy: Mine are all about being back in the crowd. They don’t really want to even come back stage. “I just want to enjoy the show,” and that’s all they really want to do. So, yeah, she’s out there right now just having a good time.

E: That’s good! What about your guys’?

D: Mine aren’t here, but it’s sort of being out in the crowd and then coming back, they love hanging out with all the band members. If they can get a good conversation in with Jer or Dave, makes their day.

E: That’s so cool; I love it. What about yours?

D: She’s up front dancing. That’s her thing. I don’t think, maybe I don’t describe backstage super great to my mother, but I mean, a lot of times it’s not super exciting. We’re just hanging out, drinking water, talking about how our day was, you know that kind of thing. She’s not really interested in the rock and roll lifestyle that we lead. She’s right up front dancing, singing along.

E: You guys played with Houdmouth last night – right? How was that show? I just talked to them about it. They said it was awesome.

Jon: Yeah, it was awesome. I’ve been a big Houndmouth fan for a long time, so it’s like very cool. The turnout was fantastic.

D: And Double Door is just a great club. It kind of reminded us of the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto where it’s just like, it’s lived in. Like sometimes you go to a venue, it’s super clean, all the lines are straight, and this – the boards on the floor are all worn down, stickers everywhere, posters everywhere. It feels like that’s where live music should be happening, so that was kind of really special.

E: Do you prefer that kind of vibe?

D: Yeah, I do myself. Dingy clubs. Don’t get me wrong. I love playing really nice theaters. It’s a special treat. But, I think where we come from where we started out playing in small bars and clubs, it’s kind of like a little bit of home for us.

E: And did you (Jeremy) enjoy playing with Houndmouth, too?

Jeremy: Yeah, I’ve been a big fan for a long time, too, so it was definitely great to catch them. They’re incredible live, every song was just like, “Woah!” It was rocking.

E: They’re from Indiana, so we had a good talk about IU and Bloomington.

D: I have my favorite. When I grew up, my mom had a friend that lived in Indiana. And my claim-to story was that I went and saw the Indianapolis 500 when I was like 10 years old.

E: I haven’t even done that.

D: It was the coolest thing I’d ever done at the time. Those cars are so loud, and they’re so fast.

E: And you haven’t been back?

D: No, it’s been years, but it was definitely like a really big, fond memory for me going to Indiana when I was young.

E: Have you guys ever been to Indiana?

D: We did one show in Indianapolis. This was before all this, this was like in our early tour when we kind of played to nobody in the U.S.

E: You guys just released a full album, Hope. What are some of the messages you wanted to convey in that album?

D: I think the whole sort of theme with most of our music, generally, is sort of mentally how you go through some dark times, and how you’re able to sort of pull yourself out of those dark times. Hopefully hope is at the end of the tunnel. That’s kind of like a theme that we’ve gone with, and I think that where we are in our age – we’re not the 19-year-old band we look like, we look 19, but we’re a little bit older than that – it’s trying to pull yourself up from those tough times and drawing from that. Dark lyrics with happy, upbeat melodies and music has been our sort of go-to.

Jon: Where do I go to get the best deep-dish pizza around here?

E: Oh, Gino’s East. Gino’s East.

D: Is that here at the festival?

E: Well, no they don’t have Gino’s here, but they do have one deep-dish place that is down, I think, in the middle row of tents. I had it, it was good. I mean, it was like, not the best, not the best deep dish I’ve had here, but it was good. But Gino’s East is out, there’s a couple of locations in Chicago. I recommend it.

D: I like how there was zero hesitation in your voice to answer that, at all.

E: Gino’s East. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been to like two different ones, so I only go to one.

D: Well it’s the kind of thing that you find one that you really like, you got to stick with it, right? Why risk disappointment somewhere else?

E: What’s your guy’s’ favorite?

Jeremy: You know I don’t really have a favorite, as long as it’s good. If it’s thin, or if it’s deep-dish, or if it’s whatever, as long as it’s greasy and got lots of meat on it.